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Supplements to Help With Acne

By Clay McNight ; Updated July 18, 2017

Acne is a common skin condition that has become more prevalent over the last half century, notes a 2008 paper published in "Lipids in Health and Disease." Self-esteem issues caused by acne can lead to anger, depression and other psychological problems. While the root cause of acne is still unclear, it has been determined that inflammation, oxidative stress and oil overproduction all contribute to the condition. Therapy with antioxidants, vitamins and anti-inflammatory supplements may benefit people with acne.

Fish Oil

According to the 2008 paper published in "Lipids in Health and Disease," omega-3 fatty acids possess various properties that can improve skin health. In the paper, the authors report on a number of acne cases treated with eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA -- one type of omega-3 fatty acid -- along with antioxidant nutrients such as chromium, zinc and selenium. The researchers noted that omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on inflammatory acne lesions. Omega-3 fats can be found in rich amounts in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, or they can be obtained through fish oil supplements.

Vitamin A

Low levels of vitamin A can aggravate acne, a study published in 2006 in "Clinical and Experimental Dermatology" determined. Vitamin A is found in its highest concentrations in sweet potatoes, beef liver, spinach, carrots and pumpkin. If you decide to supplement vitamin A due to dietary insufficiency, the Office of Dietary Supplements notes that the recommended daily allowance is 900 micrograms for adult women and 700 micrograms for adult men. Upper limits are 2,800 micrograms for both groups. Because vitamin A is fat-soluble, ingesting excessive amounts can lead to toxicity.

Vitamin E

The "Clinical and Experimental Dermatology" study also concluded that low levels of vitamin E can worsen acne. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent against oxidative stress -- physiological stress caused by the collective damage done by free radicals incompletely neutralized by antioxidants -- one of the reactions that may contribute to acne. The best sources of dietary vitamin E include nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that most American diets include less than the recommended amount of vitamin E. For those with acne, it may be particularly beneficial to supplement. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E is 15 milligrams for adults, with 1,000 milligrams being the upper tolerable limit. Like vitamin A, vitamin E is fat-soluble vitamin and can become toxic when overconsumed.


Zinc is a mineral essential for human health that plays roles in many important functions, including protein synthesis, immune function and cell division. A study published in 2013 in "Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology" found that, along with vitamin E, low levels of zinc were correlated with increased severity in acne. The authors concluded that diet is an important factor in the progression of acne and noted that supporting treatment with vitamin E and zinc had positive results. Good sources of dietary zinc include legumes, cereals and whole-grain breads. For those who consume less than the recommended 9 to 11 milligrams of dietary zinc daily, supplementation may prove useful. Upper tolerable limits of zinc are between 34 and 40 milligrams.

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